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Discussion Starter #1
I'm looking at a 74 ironhead sportster. The guy said it needs to be timed but it does run. I don't know anything about these bikes and not much about bikes in general. Always wanted one and I'm finally getting one. Just looking for advice. I am mechanically inclined. I'm a mechanic but I don't work on bikes. So any advice would help


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Discussion Starter #2
1st bike need advice

Looking into getting my first bike. Looking at a 74 ironhead sportster. Needs timing adjusted some but idk much about these bikes. It's my first bike so just looking for info. Is it a good bike. They seem to be but idk


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Just Ride
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First bike,needs timed,suicide shift and iron head sportster makes a bad combo.

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^^^Totally agree. Foot shifter is much better. I've seen bikes with the foot clutch and suicide shifter and it is awkward to shift that way no matter how much practice you have.
 

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rode hard/put up wet
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Ironhead cool but not dependable. Ironhead, first bike AND suicide shifter? I don't think Indian Larry (RIP) would even recommend that combination.

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Champagne in one hand, strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming….. WOO HOO…. What a RIDE!”
"Indian Larry"

I love that quote but remember he's daid.
 

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Love the look of a 74 but an Ironhead does have some dependability issues. Some of which you can improve like timing. I think you can replace the points with solid state retro kit. oil you can do an aftermarket cooler with a filter. Also if I remember correctly they seem to only last about 10,000 miles before they need to be rebuilt. Not to mention the motor is bolted solid to the frame which adds vibration. Then with a 4 speed transmission it does limit your top speed. Then to add a suicide shifter ups the cool factor but they do call it a suicide shifter for a reason.
 

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SwampRat
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I would pass but your call .. Went through the Hand Shift Faze on my 51 Pan .. Had no desire to repeat it .. Want a Sportster go with a Rigid EVO or even better a Rubber Mount ..
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The one I was looking at got sold but I found another one I'm gonna check out. It's a 88 sportster. It's got a ss e carb and looks clean. And the suicide shift kit won't be for a while. I'm gonna hardtail it and put a springer on and a few other things first. And when I do I'm gonna do a rocker clutch so I can lock the clutch in and put my foot down to stop


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Hit it she goes boom
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FYI from 1967-1981 AMF owned HD... this is just me, but I would not consider purchasing a bike that was made during those years.. just my .02
 

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Office Linebacker
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FYI from 1967-1981 AMF owned HD... this is just me, but I would not consider purchasing a bike that was made during those years.. just my .02
I would beg to differ, Gold, but probably agree on the core of what you are saying.

I bought, and absolutely LOVE my IH...
But...
It was certainly not purchased as intended to be my "daily", but more as a toy/project bike. If anyone wants to learn to wrench, go get a cheap IH... I can not recommend this enough.
SO easy to work on, and just a pleasure to have as a hopper.

Yes, I am ALWAYS fixing or tightening something, but is is really a source of pride to me.

She is an ornery little bitch that I just can't seem to break up with.
 

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Hit it she goes boom
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@ Deeday... actually you have a damn good point, and there was a point in time I probably would have enjoyed doing something like that. I'm a bit older, I do like working on the bike, but when it comes time to go for a ride, I want to ride the hell out of it.
 

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Well, both are at least 25+ years old, so any generalizations are going to be meaningless.

For a broad stroke, though, the '88 is a bit newer in engine model, and technology, so if you do run into any issues and are thinking you may not be doing all of your own maintenance... Probably be the way to go.
(And Gold's point that the IH is of AMF era is a valid negative point.)

If looking for a daily driver, all things equal probably leans toward the Evo.

However...
25+ years...
Condition, condition, condition is everything.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
ImageUploadedByMO Free1368558893.220759.jpg here's the bike. It's a clean looking bike. He said there's only some surface rust on the handle bars and he has another set to go with it. I'm gonna have someone come with me to look at it. I have a lot of family that rides Harley's and know more about them than I do. I'll probably do the maintenance myself. I am mechanically inclined. I work on cars for a living and can rebuild motors but I don't work on bikes so I'm not sure how much harder they are to work on. I'll know a lot buy the end though cause I plan on doing a lot to the bike


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That '88 looks pretty nice. You know thats not an Ironhead though, right? As far as working on it goes, do what someone else already recommended and buy the manual for it. Harleys are by far some of the easiest bikes to work on so if you're already a mechanic you should have no problem. Good luck!!
BTW....Sportsters can usually be found at great prices , under 4K alot of times. I'd get the newest model I could find in whatever your price range is.
 

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Lots of old wives' tales here. An Ironhead that's been maintained and taken care of will go way past 10,000 miles before needing a rebuild. Mine's closing in on 50,000 miles and is still in great running condition. Of course, the older the Ironhead (or any bike for that matter), the more chances it's been abused. If you have an electronic ignition on one, the only extra maintenance required over an Evo is an occasional valve adjustment. As far as AMF bikes go, any problems with one should have been corrected by now, as they are all over 30 years old. The final drive ratio in 4th gear on a 4 speed is the same as the 5th gear on a 5 speed - the extra gear just gets rid of the big ratio gap between 3rd and 4th on the 4 speed transmissions. They do vibrate, but not really any worse than the later solid-mount Evos.

Looks like you're looking at an Evo now. That '88 looks great in the picture. The good thing about solid-mount Evos is that they run cooler than Ironheads, and you can get a lot more power out of them if you want to without turning them into a time bomb. In general, Sportsters are easy to work on, too, but the newer rubber-mount models are more complicated (and heavier). Good luck with your search.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Yea. I was leaning toward the 88 anyways. It's all stock so I can do everything I want myself. I've already added up a rough estimate on what it's gonna cost. Luckily I have a uncle who welds for a living so the hard tail kit shouldn't be to big of a deal. That'll probably be the first thing I do. I already know how I want to paint it too. Gonna give that old school vibe


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